A man of many talents, Walter E. Disney, was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5, 1901. He lived to be 65 years old because he died, also in December, in 1966 in Burbank, California, USA. Walt was all these things in his life: film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, businessman, and philanthropist (gives money away to charity and needy people). He and his brother, Roy, started Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the world’s famous motion picture companies. Walt won 26 Oscars and 7 Emmy Awards in his life, but received many more nominations.
While living in Missouri for 4 years, young Walt became fond of drawing and trains (he was from 4 to 9 years old then). Then, living in Kansas City, he became friends of a family who loved theater and motion pictures. They greatly influenced Walt. After he returned to Chicago with his family, Walt took art lessons at night. He discovered that he loved creating cartoons. Within a year or two, Walt decided to become an animator (draws cartoon figures). He opened his own studio in Kansas City (he moved there again) where he and a partner created Laugh-O-Grams, which were like cartoons in those early days.
Roy and Walt soon moved to Hollywood, where they opened a cartoon studio. In 1925 Walt married Lillian Bounds, an artist he had hired to work for him. Some people called her Lilly. Like most business people, Walt and Roy had good times and bad times in their studio. Then Walt and Ubbe, an old friend and partner, created Mickey Mouse. After several experimental “shorts” (little films) about Mickey, Walt created a Mickey Mouse sound cartoon he called Steamboat Willie. That little film was a giant hit! Another big big hit Disney created (in 1933) was The Three Little Pigs.
Walt received his first Academy Award in 1932 for creating Mickey. Later, other characters like Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto followed. Donald would become the 2nd most successful cartoon character, after Mickey, in history!
Diane Marie Disney was born in 1933. She was Walt and Lilly’s daughter. Later, they adopted Sharon, a 2nd daughter.
After much work, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a complete movie, opened in December, 1937. It was the first cartoon movie in English and in Technicolor. It was quickly a huge hit. Movies like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo followed. Then Bambi opened in theatres in 1942. Of course, since those early days, The Walt Disney Company has created hundreds of movies both children and adults enjoy. In 1966, Walt developed health problems and died in California. Roy continued to carry on with the many plans and projects they had worked on together.
Today Walt Disney theme parks exist in different places in the world. The original ones are in California and Florida, USA. A Walt Disney postage stamp was created in 1968. These days, as you know, cartoons are created by computers and their engineers instead of by hand drawings. The honors and awards presented to Walt and Roy Disney are too numerous to mention. I think the biggest award, though, is that today, many years later, grownups and kids still laugh, cry, and delight in seeing Disney films and cartoons as well as playing with Disney toy characters such as Mickey, Donald, Pluto, and all the others. Do you agree?
P.S. Can you imagine a world without Mickey, Donald and the other Disney characters? I can’t either. Thank you, Mr. Disney!